"A DREAM THAT CAME TRUE"
THE FOUNDING OF THE COL. JOHN SLOAN CAMP, 91290
By C. Michael Briggs
I became interested in history when I was fourteen years old, when I found a civil war musket in the basement of Grandmothers house. I spent a few days studying the musket, (a British Enfield), and decided to learn more about Southern History. The musket was soon taken away from me by an older relative, and my interest was to lay dormant for many years, much like the old musket.
In 1980, Tim Thompson and I took a trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway. We went to Harpers Ferry, Washington D.C., and then to Manassas Civil War Battlefield. I had never been to a Civil War Battlefield before and found it quite fascinating. We then went to Fredricksburg, ChancellorsviIle, and Richmond. Along the way we stopped in some Civil War Relic Shops, and I purchased my first antique weapon, a British Enfield like the one I had found so many years before. Tim had already been collecting for a few weeks, and we had found something we could both enjoy.
Upon returning home, we both began to research our ancestors, and I learned that I had four Great-Great Grandfathers that had served as Confederate Soldiers, two of them Officers. I also began to do some local research on people and events from Greensboro. I was very surprised by what I learned. Having grown up in this area, and gone to school in Greensboro, and having at least a luke warm interest in history, I had never learned that there were guns made here in the Civil War, that there was a boot camp and prison in Greensboro, that there had been two civil war cavalry skirmishes in Guilford County near the end of the war. Most of all I was surprised to learn that the Confederate Government and several military leaders had met in Greensboro after General Lee's surrender, to discuss what to do with the three remaining Confederate Armies still in the field, and that the decision was made here to bring the war to an end. I also learned that there was a Confederate Statue in Greensboro. I was very disappointed when I saw it the first time and learned that it was badly vandalized.
In the spring of 1981, I shared my research with my friend Jerry Bledsoe. Jerry then wrote an article about what I had learned, printed my phone number, and said that I would be willing to make speeches to groups about Greensboro's Civil War Heritage. Jerry also included a photo of the vandalized statue.
Over the next few months, I received many request to speak to civic groups, school groups, and even the N. C. history teachers for the City School system. I showed each civic group a photo of the statue and hoped that one of them would take on its restoration as a project. Most of them said that would be a good idea, but none of them did.
In the fall of 1981, I went to the City Council of Greensboro, and requested that the city repair the statue since it was on city property. The city said that they could not do that because they did not have title to the statue.
Shortly after I received the City's answer, I had a talk with Jerry Bledsoe, and I told Jerry that I was not having any luck getting the City or any civic group to restore the old statue in Green Hill Cemetery. Jerry said that the only way I was going to get the statue repaired was if I started my own Non-Profit Historical Group, with the statue's restoration as the group's purpose. Jerry offered to help if he could. At the time, I thought that this was more than I was capable of.
Also in the fall, I received an invitation to join the M. W. Norfleet Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Winston-Salem. I had never heard of the S. C. V., but I decided to join and see what the group was about. I returned the application with a check in November 1981. Many months went by, and I never received any response. Finally in August, 1982, I called the person that had written me and asked me to join, and he told me that he was sorry, but the Norfleet had not had any meetings in 1982, and that the camp was trying to reorganize and would hold a meeting in September, and he invited me to come.
At the September Meeting, I learned that seven members on the roster of the Norfleet Camp lived in Guilford County. I told the members of the Norfleet Camp that I might be interested in forming a camp in Greensboro, and they said that they would help in any way they could.
In November of 1982, I decided that I would start a new camp. I knew that there had been a camp in Greensboro from 1968 to 1971 named for Cpl. Elihu Weaver. I looked Cpl. Weaver up in Moore's Roster of N. C. Troops, but could not find him listed. I knew that the Guilford Grays had been the first company from Guilford County to leave Greensboro to fight in the war and that their commander was Captain John Sloan. Sloan was soon promoted to Colonel of the 27th N.C. Regiment.
On December 3, 1982, I wrote a letter to all of the S. C. V. members living in Guilford County, inviting them to attend the organizational meeting of the new S.C.V. camp for Greensboro.
On December 12, 1982, W. Mac Pritchett, Brian Osborne, Tolbert Stroud, Lee Oldham, Bernard Shaw, Gordon Teetor, Darnaye Teetor, and myself met at my office a 253 N. Greene Street, and agreed to form a new camp. I was nominated Camp Commander by Mac Pritchett and elected. Brian Osborne was appointed adjutant. It was decided that we should name the camp, the Col. John Sloan Camp, and take the number #1290 from the former camp.
I then went to Jerry Bledsoe and asked him to write an article on Robert E. Lee's Birthday, January 19, 1983. I told him of our forming of the new camp, and that we wanted to hold a Lee Jackson Dinner as our coming out party to the public. I told him that we would hold the dinner at the Western Sizzlin Restaurant on High Point Road. We would have Dr. David Smiley of Wake Forest University as our guest speaker and that the public was invited to attend. I also told him that the purpose of the group was to raise money to restore the vandalized statue in Green Hill Cemetery. In addition, I told him that the new camp would hold a flag raising ceremony in Green Hill Cemetery of January 19th to call attention to the statue. Jerry wrote the article as requested.
On January 19, 1983, the Col. John Sloan Camp held its first public meeting. 41 people attended. When I told the group of our purpose a man stood up and said that was a very worthy cause and that he would like to pledge $100.00 to that goal., and asked if anyone in the room would like to match him. When he sat down I had $500.00. I appointed that man to be my Lt. Commander, his name was Dr. Roy Clemmons. Among those attending that night were Mac Mclendon, (it would be over 10 years before Mac would miss his first meeting), and my good friend Tim Thompson.
The Camp gained many new members, and quickly had enough to Charter, but we decided to wait a while so several people could get their paperwork finished and be charter members. We finally submitted our application for charter in May 1983, with 47 members. The Charter was issued June 3, 1983.
The Camp held its first three meetings at the Western Sizzlin on High Point Road, and then moved to Hudson Bay Seafood on Summit Ave. in May of 1983 and stayed there until July of 1984 when it moved to the Western Steer on High Point Road. In April of 1985, the camp moved to the Smokey Mountain BBQ on Wendover Ave. In May we moved to the Western Sizzlin on West Market Street, and finally moved to Greensboro College in January of 1986, where we stayed through 1994
The Sloan Camp grew steadily in its early years with a total of 66 members on the roster in June 1984. By June 1985, that number was up to 87. The camp went over the century mark in 1986 and reached a peak of 142 members in 1990. The Camp's treasury also grew quickly. By the spring of 1984 the camp had raised nearly $4,000.00 to restore the old statue.
The statue was taken down by Compatriot Howard Macon and transported to Mr. Bill Keen at the Greensboro Art Foundry where it was restored. New hands and rifle for the statue were cast. North State Monument erected a new block of granite on top of the old base so that the statue would not be as easy to vandalize in the future. On June 9, 1984, the restored Confederate Statue at Green Hill Cemetery was unveiled at a service attended by a large crowd.
After the statue restoration project was finished, the Sloan Camp Finance Committee met and decided that the camp should take on other projects. I was asked to submit a list of other historical projects that the camp could undertake. I initially submitted a list of 9 projects, and the committee voted to start to work on the first one.
On May 10, 1985, the camp unveiled a new, four-sided, granite monument, at Hamburger Square in Greensboro. The North face, symbolically, tells of the South looking to the North for peace, and the Confederate Government meeting in a Box Car near that spot and deciding to seek an end to the war. The East face, facing Durham Station and the Bennett Place, tells of General Joseph Johnston meeting General Sherman at that location to surrender the Confederate Army of Tennessee. The West face, facing Tennessee, where the Army received its name, contains General Johnston's General Order No. 22, his farewell to the Army. Facing south is a memorial to the Army. The cost of the monument was $3,000.00.
On May 10, 1986, the camp unveiled a new, granite monument containing a brass plaque, erected to honor the Confederate Soldiers from Guilford County. The monument was erected at Hamburger Square Park, which was the location of the Greensboro Railroad Depot in 1861, and the last thing many of those men saw of their home town. The monument contains a fitting epitaph, and list all of the companies raised in the county. The cost of the monument was $2,000.00.
On May 10, 1987, the camp unveiled its first Historical Marker at the site of Camp Stokes on Battleground Ave. Camp Stokes was a camp of instruction for conscripts and prison for deserters. The cost of the marker was $1,200.00.
On January 19, 1988, the camp unveiled two new Historical Markers, the first was for the Tarpley Confederate Gun Factory and is located at Hamburger Square. The second tells of the capture and burning of the Reedy Fork Trestle by the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry and stands at the entrance to Bryan Park. The cost of these markers was $1,200.00 each.
On May 10, 1988, the camp unveiled two new Historical Markers near Jamestown. The first was for the Mendenhall, Jones and Gardner Confederate Gun Factory, and is located on River Road near the Oakdale Cotton Factory. The second marker is for the H. C. Lamb Confederate Gun Factory and stands on Guilford Jamestown Road. The cost of these markers was $1,300.00 each.
On January 19, 1989, the camp unveiled a new Historical Marker for the North Carolina Armory at Florence. The marker stands at the corner of East Fork and Penny roads. The marker cost $1,300.00.
On January 19, 1990, the camp unveiled a new Historical Marker for the Gilliam & Miller Confederate Gun Factory on North Main Street in High Point at a cost of $1,400.00.
On May 10, 1990, the camp unveiled a new Historical marker for Camp fisher on North Main Street in High Point. Camp fisher was a camp of instruction in 1861-1862. The marker cost $1,400.
On January 19, 1991, the col. John Sloan Camp joined the Pvt. Lorenzo Dow Williams Camp, # 1456, of Reidsville in erecting a Historical Marker for the Searcy & Moore Confederate Gun Factory on Hwy 220, two miles south of Madison, N.C. The marker cost $1,500.00, with each camp paying half.
On May 10, 1994, the camp erected a monument to the Long Rifle Gunsmiths of Guilford County. The monument stands along the hiking trail in Gibson Park off Wendover Ave. The monument cost $2,500.00.
Over the years the camp has had much success in raising funds. The camp received a gift of $2,000.00 from the Bessemer Women's Club in 1985 and a grant for the erection of Historical Markers for $2,000.00 from the Area Visitors and Convention Center in 1986. The camp also founded the Antique Only Gun and Civil War Show in September of 1994. Over the years the camp has made a lot of profit from the show. This has allowed us to complete many important projects. In 1988, the camp announced that it would raise a $10,000.00 endowment fund to perpetually care for our many monuments and historical markers. This was accomplished mostly by passing a collection plate at meetings and from Civil War Show profits.
The Col. John Sloan Camp has been instrumental in the founding of several other camps in our area. The S.C.V. Camps in Reidsville, Graham, Siler City, Mt. Airy, and High Point were all started by Sloan Camp members.
The Sloan Camp has won many awards from the Sons of Confederate Veterans over the last 15 years. In 1983, we received the award for recruiting the most new members of any camp in the nation. In 1985, 86, 87, 88, and 1989, the camp received the award for the Most Important Historical Project of any camp, and in 1984, 1986, and 1988, we received the Dr. George R. Tabor Most Distinguished Camp Award for being the Most Outstanding camp
in the Nation.
The most important memory I will always have from this camp is the wonderful people that have been a part of it. I have made many great friends. Many of those people have now "Crossed Over the River, and Rest under the Shade of the Tree's. I will always remember Brian Osborne, "Mac" Pritchett, Bernard Shaw, Garland Stout, "Mac" Mclendon, Ramsey Cammack, and most of all, my dear friend Jack Watson. It is these men, and many of you who are still with the Col. John Sloan Camp, who have made my dream come true, and I thank you.
C. Michael Briggs
November 15, 2011